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Bahrain: Impunity to torturers and Irish anguish about medics
Recent steps undertaken by the Alkhalifa regime to silence opposition has solidified the people’s determination to continue the struggle to achieve regime’s change in the country. The first of these policies is the harsh attacks on demonstrators and the total banning of freedom of expresson, congregation or religious beliefs. Most of the daily protests in over 30 in Manama, towns and villages have been attacked by regime’s forces using chemical and tear gases and shotguns. On Wednesday at least two young people were seriously injured with shoguns as they participated in peaceful demonstrations. Many others were attacked as they continued their political strife against the regime calling for regime change.
Second came the blockade of Al Ekr Town that throttled the people for one week. This followed the death of a policeman who was one of the group which had attacked the houses of the citizens and assaulted women and children. The blockade epitomised one of the bleakest episodes of collective punishment imposed by theAlkhalifa on Bahrainis. Under internal and external pressures the regime was defeated into ending the blockade. The tales that emerged from the town have shocked the people and made them more resolute in challenging the regime and insisting on its removal.
Third came one of the most miscarriages of justice. One of their courts has aquitted a notorious torturer of any wrong doing despite the abundance of evidence implicating her in the crime. Sarah Al Moussa had tortured Miss Naziah Saeed, who is a Bahraini journalist working for Radio France 24. The crime happened after the Saudis occupied Bahrain in mid March 2011 during the martial law period. Miss Saeed was severely tortured and abused by Sarah AlMoussa. The crime led to an outcry by many human rights bodies who called for the punishment of the torturer. In order to contain the situation and stem off the criticism the regime announced that it was “conducting an inquiry” into the appalling crime. This week the dictator ordered that the torturer be acquitted. There was another protest from several human rights bodies.
IFEX, which is an international body defending the freedom of expression issued a statement condemning the decision to acquit a notorious torturer, despite the enormous evidence linking her to the crimes attributed to her. IFEX called for justice to be administered by the regime against those who are accused of human rights violations. It attacked the culture of impunity granted to torturers like Al Moussa, Nasser bin Hamad AlKhalifa, Khalifa bin Abdulla Alkhalifa and Khalifa bin Ali Alkhalifa. A delegation representing several human rights NGOs visited Miss Saeed and expressed the solidarity of others like the International Union of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and Committee to Protect Journalists, with her. Also the American Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, issued another statement condemning the decision to acquit the notorious torturer.
At another level, Dr Ruairi Hanley, a senior Irish doctor and columnist has written the following letter to The Irish Times on 25th October in support of the jailed Bahraini medics:
Sir, – I wish to congratulate Prof Damien McCormack (October 19th) for his courageous comments on the situation in Bahrain. As he correctly states, Irish-trained doctors have been illegally detained, tortured and convicted of the “crime” of treating injured anti-government protesters. Although media attention has drifted away from Bahrain, these colleagues remain under sentence and their treatment has been roundly condemned by the United Nations and multiple human rights organisations.
Regrettably, as Prof McCormack also points out, a number of Irish medical institutions have disgraced themselves in their reaction to these events. Truly, it beggars belief that representatives of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland paid social visits to the leaders of the brutal Bahraini regime in the same week that their own graduates had their convictions upheld by a kangaroo court.
Throughout this entire episode, the leadership of the Irish medical profession has failed to consistently and unequivocally condemn a savage regime that has incarcerated and tortured doctors. Much opprobrium has deservedly attached itself to the RCSI, but the muted response and lengthy silence of both the Irish Medical Organisation and the Royal College of Physicians in recent times must also be highlighted.
The Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee has, in the past, investigated these issues and the behaviour of certain Irish medical institutions with respect to Bahrain. I urge them to revisit this matter and to hold members of our profession to account for their actions and inactions during the course of this scandal. – Yours, etc,
Bahrain Freedom Movement
27th October 2012